Mosques extend activities

Many now provide community services
By David Shepardson / The Detroit News
June 19, 2002

DEARBORN -- Mosques across Metro Detroit are taking a
page from their Christian and Jewish counterparts and becoming more
like neighborhood churches and synagogues.

Many mosques in Dearborn were founded by immigrants
from the Mideast.

They began as bare-bones operations, primarily
offering religious services and perhaps a meeting hall for community

Now, many have blossomed into vibrant community
centers with a wide range of activities.

The Islamic House of Wisdom plans a potluck supper
Friday, as well as a summer carnival and picnics.
The mosque will take kids roller-skating and
bowling on summer outings and sponsor sporting events. Its Web site features a
section titled "Ask the Imam," not unlike the columns in many Catholic
Church bulletins.

"We do a lot of outreach with our Christian and
Jewish brothers and sisters," said Imam Mohamad Ali Elahi. "We have a lot
in common with them, and we do a lot of similar things."

The Islamic House of Wisdom's Web site (
draws visitors from across the country. Elahi said the
"Ask the Imam" section had drawn many questions, including some about
personal problems and others about the foundation of Islam.

The Web site also carries sermons Elahi has delivered. A growing 
number of rabbis and priests are also posting sermons on Web

Other activities at the mosque include planting
flowers and painting. "This is a center of the community. We are open to
everyone," Elahi said.

The Star International Academy, a nearby four-year-old predominantly
Muslim charter school, has about 500 students and uses
portable classrooms that are on the mosque's property.

On Tuesday, school officials set up decorations in
the cafeteria for eighth-grade graduation for 43 students.

"We have a great relationship with the mosque," said Tanya Schacher, 
a social worker at the school.

The mosque also sponsors sports events for kids and
has a day-care center with about 50 pupils.

Metro Detroit has at least 30 mosques and an estimated Muslim
population of about 100,000.

The Islamic Center of America in Detroit -- attended by many Dearborn
residents -- lets people donate at its Web site with a
credit card -- following many other religious organizations that
employ the fund-raising technique.

Its elementary school -- the Muslim American Youth
Academy -- has increased enrollment from 35 students to 170 at the
site of an old YMCA in Dearborn. It is at work on a $15-million,
65,000-square-foot new mosque on Ford Road in Dearborn that is expected 
to open later this year or early next year.

Some mosques -- including the Islamic House of
Wisdom -- are in former Christian churches. The American Muslim Center
recently opened in a residential neighborhood in Dearborn in the former
Church of God of Prophecy.

Imam Mohamad Mardini said the mosque, now being
renovated, is open for prayers while extensive interior work is planned.

"This is a very American mosque," Mardini said.



Common ground

Many Metro Detroit mosques are becoming more like Christian churches
and synagogues. Among the events at area mosques:

* Potluck suppers.
* Youth outings, roller skating, bowling and going to movies.
* Volunteering at soup kitchens.
* Trips to museums.
* The "Ask the Imam" column -- similar to "Ask the Priest" or "Ask 
  the Rabbi" columns in religious bulletins.
* Pizza parties for kids.
* Sponsoring sports teams for kids.
* Putting up Web sites.

Source: Local mosques

At a glance
* The Service for Peace Youth Leadership conference will be held 
  June 29 at the Islamic House of Wisdom, 22575 Ann Arbor
  Trail, Dearborn Heights.

* Students aged 15-22 of any religion who are interested must fill 
  out an application and an essay. The program is limited to
  100 students.

* For information, call (248) 388-4869.


Back To Islam Awareness Homepage

Latest News about Islam and Muslims

Contact for further information